Latdict was created to be a Latin resource website, provided free of charge, to the online community. Well, to be completely honest, Latdict was originally an experiment that eventually developed into a fully-fledged website. It all started as a hobbyist activity, playing around with another type of language — a computer language called PHP. I found a neat new framework to play around with, and I wanted to learn it by creating a practical project that would give me some focus. Thus, Latdict was born out of my own tinkering.
Why did I choose to make a Latin dictionary? It seemed like a good idea, because as a language hobbyist I was actually looking for a useful online dictionary. And to be honest, I was frustrated with the other online Latin dictionaries (except the Perseus Project — I love you guys!). I wanted a dictionary that could actually be searched and have the results ranked by some means of importance, and give some context to the words themselves. And more importantly — being a poor college student at the time — I wanted something that was free. The other free dictionaries usually had a limited amount of entries with almost no additional word information such as age, origin or commonality. The dictionaries that did have numerous entries had cryptic user interfaces that were not very user-friendly (I’m looking at you, Notre Dame), especially to those who were not Latin scholars.
So really, the whole thing was a no-brainer. I wanted to make a dictionary that was at least somewhat aesthetically pleasing, and I wanted to make it something that even non-Latin speakers could use — people like botanists, historians, doctors and other scientists. As a Latin enthusiast (and language enthusiast), I wanted to make the language open and accessible for everyone in hopes that it would help give it more exposure.
Content for this site is provided freely, and I was not paid to create the site. It’s a labor of love. I originally placed ads on this site back when I was in college and needed all the income I could get. I’m out of college now, but there are still costs of hosting and maintaining the site, which oddly enough takes a lot of time and effort. Short of receiving a grant from a university (still looking at you, Notre Dame), or receiving funding from another benefactor, I will continue to keep running ads on this site.
I also don’t like ads, but at least I can promise you all that they won’t get in the way of the content of the website. You won’t find misleading ad links within the definitions, nor will you ever experience pop-ups or other annoyances that keep you from doing your business. With that said, if anyone still feels completely disgusted with this, I would recommend that he or she find an alternate, ad-free website.
First and foremost, this site could not be possible without the generosity of William Whitaker, who is responsible for compiling the Latin wordlist used on this site (as well as English translations), and providing everything to the public domain. In essence, if Latdict were a car, Whitaker provided the engine whereas I merely provided the chassis. Whitaker had also written his own free Latin dictionary in the Ada language, which ran via command-line (UNIX users rejoice!). Unfortunately, his site is no longer around.
I’d also like to give credit to Project Gutenberg, who provides a public domain version of Charles Bennett’s “New Latin Grammar,” which I used as the basis for Latdict’s grammar section. It’s available freely online at this link.
Finally, I’d love to extend thanks to my old Latin teachers from my high school, Kevin Griffin and Rick LaBelle. If either of them were to ever read this, I would feel honored (or perhaps mortified if they thought of this site as rubbish). They both fostered and nurtured my interest in Latin, without which this site would not be possible. If for any reason a student at Gonzaga Prep is reading this, take a Latin course! You won’t regret it, unless you’re an idiot. Latin provides benefits well beyond being able to translate ancient texts — it’ll help you understand language better in general, including English itself.
Oh, and one additional thank-you goes out to Aaron Linde, who is the best friend a friend could ever have. As the Ween song goes, “A friend’s a friend who knows what being a friend is.”